We love to watch James Bond 007 movies, even the old ones. With their often hilariously constructed stories and snobbish settings they offer exotic beautiful locations, fancy technical gadgets and much-needed mental relaxation. During the research for our guidebooks on Tyrol and Bern we visited several James Bond museums in the Alps! The James Bond movies are famous for their spectacular locations, and also for their stunts and technology. No wonder that Alpine mountain peaks have often featured in these films.
In the James Bond movie “Spectre” (2015), the Tyrolean mountain top Gaislachkogl is one of the main locations for the action scenes. A much earlier precedent for mountain action in a James Bond movie is the upper cable car station on Mount Schilthorn in the Bernese Alps. It featured as “Piz Gloria” in the 1969 Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. Today both of these film locations are operating cable car stations, and both host a James Bond museum.
This post gives you an impression of the two James Bond museums: what is there to see and why you may want to visit one of them.
A James Bond Alpine chase on Gaislachkogl in Tyrol
“Did you notice Q walking into the gondola?,” Isa asks when we board the cable car up to the top of Gaislachkogl in Tyrol. Perhaps it was a lookalike. But the gondola is the same as in the movie. It is large and very fast. Changing gondolas once at the semi-circular middle station, we move up a whopping 1700 m in only about 15 minutes.
Walking out at the top station, the cubic glass building in front of us looks familiar. In the James Bond movie “Spectre” from 2015, the building on top of Gaislachkogl is an exclusive mountain clinic, where Madeleine Swann works as a psychologist. Through her father, Swann has unique knowledge about the villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. That is why James Bond (Daniel Craig) is keen to meet her, but the Blofeld team abduct Swann in an action-packed chase on the snowy mountain slopes.
In reality the glass cube is the Ice-Q Restaurant. At 3048 m, on top of Gaislachkogl, you can sip wine and eat some tasty food while looking out over the fantastic mountain scenery.
The 007 Elements James Bond Museum on Gaislachkogl
007 Elements is the name of the James Bond exhibition in the building behind the gondola peak station on Gaislachkogl. Most of the building is underground with only a few windows peeking out onto the stunning landscape outside. The exhibition shows key scenes from the movie, of course, and some memorabilia from the shooting. There are also real props from several James Bond movies which fans will recognize, like the Golden Gun from the 1974 movie “The man with the Golden Gun”.
For us, the most interesting part was the explanations of special effects. In several rooms, videos and models show how catastrophic scenes are generated in the newer movies. You see the images of running crowds and of huge explosions – all separately. Only in the final cut these images overlap and the people seem to be running from firebombs. But not every effect can be digitally manufactured. For a downhill chase with cars and an airplane, the film crew built a kind of cable car to navigate the airplane through a narrow forest clearing! In the exhibition the original airplane also features: frozen in time as it is bursting through the woods.
More things to do on top of Gaislachkogl
While you are on top of Gaislachkogl do not miss the view from the public toilets. Women, try to get a peek into the Men’s toilet, too!
The Ice-Q Restaurant received several gourmet awards and is well worth a visit if you can afford it. For vegetarians like us the choice was a bit limited – we tried the cheese plate and a dessert. Interesting for wine lovers is a glass of the red Pino 3000. It is a cuvee of three Pinot Noirs from Austria, Germany, and Italy (since you can see all three countries from the top), developed by three top winemakers of the regions. The Pino 3000 then matures at 3048 meters on top of Gaislachkogl . In addition it is only available in the Ice-Q Restaurant and in the Hotel Central in Sölden down in the valley.
On a sunny day it is nice to walk down the mountain or at least back to the middle station of the cable car. On the way you will pass the heart-shaped Lake Gaislach.
Where is the James Bond museum on Gaislachkogl and how to get there by public transport
The Gaislachkogl mountain is situated Tyrol in Austria. The cable car up to Gaislachkogl starts from the village of Sölden in the Ötztal Valley. However, the nearest train station is Ötztal station about 35 km away from Sölden. From there you must take the bus up the valley. Buses run fairly regularly and can also transport bicycles (search here for connections). Conveniently, they are free of charge if you stay in the Ötztal Valley.
From the base station in Sölden you take a small 8 person gondola up to the middle station where you change to a bigger gondola that can accommodate up to 28 people. This brings you up to the top in about five minutes. The whole cable car journey takes around 15 minutes. A combined return ticket for the gondola and the museum cost 59 Euro in 2023, for exact prices refer to the homepage of the Gaislachkogl cable car.
Piz Gloria or Mount Schilthorn? A James Bond museum in the Bernese Alps
During our recent research trip for a new guidebook on the Swiss canton of Bern we took the cable car from the Lauterbrunnen Valley in the Bernese Alps up to Mount Schilthorn. The mountain is still also known by its Alias of Piz Gloria. That was the fictive name of Blofeld’s (the villain’s) alleged research institute in the 1969 James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. Under the pretext of researching allergies in a clear mountain climate, Blofeld is preparing a group of young women, using hypnosis, to spread a dangerous virus in their home countries. James Bond is showing up on the mountain in the guise of a heraldic researcher and trying to uncover the plot.
A large part of the film was shot on the mountain and in the area. It was the only James Bond film featuring the Australian George Lazenby as James Bond, an actor without any previous movie experience. The revolving mountain peak restaurant was still in the planning stage when the money ran out in 1967. The film crew offered to finish the restaurant according to their own specifications and needs. The cable car company could take it over after the filming, and some of the original features from the James Bond movie are still in place.
Spy World exhibition on Mount Schilthorn
As on Gaislachkogl, the peak station at 2970 m on Mount Schilthorn has a James Bond museum introducing the 007 movie. Obviously, this exhibition is somewhat older and features less high-tech attractions. There are key scenes from the movie to watch, and installations such as half a helicopter in which you can sit to simulate a James Bond chase.
We found the reminiscences of actors and other people involved with the film quite interesting. And in comparison with the newer Spectre movie and its digital effects, the insights into the stunts are quite jaw-dropping! In the 1960s, real people had to actually do most of the dangerous scenes. For instance, the camera operator Willy Bogner had ski with pointed tips on both ends, which allowed him to ski downhill backwards to film some action scenes. And while Diana Rigg in the lead role of Tracy di Vincenzo could not ski, she had to go downhill kneeling on a special sled to simulate the skiing scenes.
More things to do on Mount Schilthorn
Again, do not miss out on the toilets! While they do not offer such great views as those on Gaislachkogl, they are interestingly James Bond-themed.
On your way up or down, get off at the middle station of the cable car at Birg. During our guidebook research in the region, we went up to all the viewpoints for decent views of the “Famous Three Mountains”: Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. In our opinion, the view from the Birg cable car station is the best. There is also the “Birg Thrill Walk” to explore, a 200-meter metal and glass pathway that clings to the vertical rock cliff. Currently only parts are accessible as there is a construction site for a new cable car to the top.
The cliffs in the area are also one of the top destinations for base jumpers and there are good chances that you might see one of them flying or walking back to their car at the parking area.
Where is Mount Schilthorn and how to get there by public transport
Schilthorn is a mountain in the Jungfrau region in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland. The train will bring you as far as the village of Lauterbrunnen, from where you have several options. You could take the bus to the smaller village of Stechelberg further up the valley, from where the Schilthorn cable car starts. The ride up to the top takes around 30 minutes and requires a change of cable cars several times at Gimmelwald, Mürren, and at the middle station of Birg. The whole return journey costs around 100 CHF in 2023 (for exact prices see the homepage of the Schilthorn cable car). You could also make your way to Mürren by a combination of funicular and train and board the Schilthorn cable car from there. However, unless you stay in Mürren, this might work out more expensive.
If you have time for only one James Bond museum in the Alps, which should you visit?
Both James Bond museums are interesting for their own reasons. In any case, you will have a better experience if you have watched the movie and remember the story, the scenes, and the actors. In case you have only seen one of the two movies we would suggest visiting the corresponding museum.
Apart from that you should decide by destination. Sölden and the Ötztal Valley in Tyrol, Austria, is an action sport destination for climbers and mountain bikers in summer and skiers in winter. Mount Schilthorn and the Jungfrau region in Switzerland are quite touristy in the peak season in summer, but they offer spectacular mountain views and a lot of cable cars to get you up into the mountains.
We have also visited the Japanese island of Hajima / Gunkanjima. It doesn’t have a museum but was recreated as a James Bond location in the movie “Skyfall”.
NB: Since both visits were part of a guidebook research, we had sponsoring from the respective cable cars to see them. However, writing this blog article was no part of the agreement.
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